Three Lions Fail To Roar
England’s football team found a way to quickly dissipate the nation’s summer of sporting success and bring back the gloom.
After the feel-good factor the Olympics and Paralympics provided in London, came a dreary performance against Ukraine at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday, with England only just avoiding a first competitive home loss in five years.
It took Frank Lampard to score his 26th England goal from the penalty spot in the 87th minute after Yevhen Khacheridi handled the ball to salvage a 1-1 draw in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
‘We rely on him and he’s done the job again for us tonight,’ captain Steven Gerrard said. But any hope of grabbing a winner seemed to be thwarted shortly after Lampard’s leveler when Gerrard became the first England captain to be sent off since David Beckham in 2005.
‘These games are not easy and in the end getting a point is a good result considering we were 1-0 down with 10 minutes to go,’ Lampard said. ‘I’m not prepared to say it wasn’t a great performance,’ Hodgson said. Yevhen Konoplianka had put Ukraine in front in the 39th, crisply curling the ball from 25 yards (meters) into the top corner of Joe Hart’s goal in the team’s first qualifier and first competitive match. Marko Devic, who wasn’t playing at Wembley, had a goal wrongly disallowed in Donetsk despite the ball crossing the line.
When there were openings in front of goal, England was far too complacent, with Cleverley squandering two golden chances in the first half. The midfielder headed straight at goalkeeper Andri Piatov’s feet from point-blank range after being set up by Defoe. And in the search for an equalizer, there was not enough urgency from Cleverley when Lampard squared the ball with precision to him, making a sloppy connection with his heel and missing the target.
After the break, England’s forays were equally forlorn, with Defoe striking wide from distance and Danny Welbeck blasting the ball against the post, leaving a frustrated Hodgson holding his head in his hands.
SPAIN, GERMANY, ITALY REGISTER WINS
Reigning World and European champions Spain needed an 86th-minute strike from Roberto Soldado to beat Georgia 1-0 in their opening Group I qualifier for the 2014 World Cup on Wednesday.
Germany edged a combative Austria 2-1 to confirm their top spot in Group C after Tuesday’s 2014 World Cup qualifier in Vienna.
After a 3-0 victory against the Faroe Islands in Friday’s first qualifier, Germany secured another three points thanks to goals in either half from Marco Reus and Mesut Oezil to stay top of Group C with six points, ahead of Ireland.
Goals by Mattia Destro and Federico Peluso made the difference as Italy kick-started their stuttering 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign with an unconvincing 2-0 win over Malta in Modena on Tuesday.
Roma forward Destro claimed his maiden goal for the Azzurri in the fifth minute while Atalanta defender Peluso added another in injury time with a header from a corner in an otherwise poor game from Italy’s standards to show the Azurri have to rise their bar in order to shine in the other upcoming matches.